ON March 8, Tanzanians joined other nations across the world to mark International Women’s Day and this year’s theme: ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’ puts women and girls’ innovation at the centre of achieving gender equality.
The theme implies that women have their own positive contribution that has to be explored and utilised for the common good. When they are empowered and given leadership roles they perform well, even better than men.
So, we shouldn’t undermine their capabilities and contribution. Yet, in many parts of the world, women are still discriminated simply because of what they are. In fact, there are people, who think women are inferior to men and so they have always to be kept in check.
This translates into an instinctive fear of the unknown. This is aggravated by our patriarchal society in which girls are taught since their tender age to respect boys and boys are taught not to be or behave like girls or women.
On the other hand, women are given strict rules to conform to, while men are free to do anything they want, may go anywhere they want to go and may return home at any time they want, but they won’t allow their spouses to do the same.
This has led to a stereotype view of women as subordinate to men and wife beating in particular is used to subdue them. But men and women are supposed to live in a spirit of companionship and interdependence.
In families in which this is a reality there are greater chances of success than in those in which the man knows everything even know what his spouse is going to think about and do.
We have given this background information because we have witnessed certain acts done against women, which shouldn’t have happened, but they do happen because men think women are inferior to them and this is what we want to correct.
If we want to achieve gender parity, which International Women’s Day seeks to inculcate in us both men and women must respect each other as equal in dignity. Biological differences are secondary in this regard. So, they can’t be the basis of gender discrimination.
We thus appeal to the government, gender activists and all well-wishers to continue raising public awareness about gender equality and put in place social arrangements that check the abuse of girls and women because of what they are.
This includes emphasising that those using loose or foul language against them should do it at their own peril.
As we advocate gender equality in the sense of equality in dignity and, of course, before the law, we likewise won’t entertain girls and women who abuse boys and men because of their gender.
We are for healthy respect that makes each one of us a responsible citizen with positive contribution to the betterment of ourselves as interdependent companions, our nation and the world at large.